The scripture is full of metaphors regarding light and darkness. Much importance is placed on remaining in the light and shunning darkness. However, there is also significance in the areas of light and darkness held within ourselves. A battle between the two wages in all of us; even if we have chosen to live a life with God, we are bound to hold some darkness within ourselves because of the sins of this world.
“For God did not destine us for wrath, but to gain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live together with him.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9
Jesus ignites a light in each of us that will never falter. This light is filled with the power and authority of Jesus Christ, which will always overcome the darkness. Thanks to Jesus Christ, this light can and should be released to bring light to others. Jesus showed this to us when He cast out demons and eventually died on the cross for our sins.
“For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” Luke 4:36
The entire world could go dark, the sun’s fire could go out, and all the stars in the sky could fade away, but the light within us given only by God will never be extinguished. A time may be coming when this world will turn dark, but God has guaranteed for us true and everlasting light
The book of Revelations has always been somewhat of a mystery to me. Regardless of the deep meaning this scripture may hold, the way it is written will always provoke images of great beauty and wonder. The descriptions contained within it do not apply to anything in this world. Its words allow us to get a glimpse of what is not in this world, so it makes sense that we would struggle to understand their meaning.
What is clear from the book of Revelations is that Heaven will be glamorous. We were destined for glorious surroundings and a life more wonderful than anything we can imagine. Thanks to the grace of God, His only Son came to save us and to allow us to keep the faith that we may someday achieve the glory that can be found in the presence of God.
“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see the heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” John 1:51
The Lord has made several promises to His people, most of which refer to the coming of His Son in the gospels, but there are more that have not yet been fulfilled. The book of Revelations can instill some fear for this reason. The end of the world is based on many promises, but these are not completely understood because we do not know what the results will be yet.
This is why our faith is so crucial. We need to have faith that the Lord loves us. He loves us so deeply that we are permitted to see the glamour and glory of His world and have confidence that we are meant to share it for eternity
“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.'” Matthew 19:23
I seem to quote this gospel verse often lately. In this current age, this particular passage appears to reveal the truth of our world even more than the world where Jesus actually spoke the words. The world of today has become a world of abundance and privilege. Its rewards are easy to obtain, but doing without them or giving them up is a harder sacrifice.
The allure of the world can convince people that Heaven can be enjoyed right here on earth. This might be one of Satan’s greatest lies. He makes us want the cars, money, houses, whatever other signs of wealth others around us may have; then he leads us to believe we can’t live without these material goods. It is hard to sacrifice or forego what is right in front of our eyes when we don’t know because we cannot imagine the wonders Heaven has to offer.
Jesus asks us to take an even greater step further. “And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are called first will be last, and the last will be first.” Matthew 19: 29-30
We are called to give up everything, in fact, even to give up ourselves for the Lord. Obviously, this is a difficult task especially in this world of grandeur, but we have to remember we are not of this world. This is a world of illusion; Satan lies and we believe we have to hold onto what we have worked to obtain in it. The truth is there is nothing in this world we can hold onto except the Lord and His words.
God never said life here on earth would be easy. The best life involves hardship and sacrifice, and that is why the last shall be first in Heaven
Today is the feast of St. Lawrence, the patron saint of deacons, but it is also the birthday of my grandfather, who passed away a little over a year ago. I find it amazing that God always picks the perfect day for each person to be born. My grandfather was meant to be born on this day; the readings for it depict him exactly.
The responsorial psalm says, “Blessed the man who is gracious and lends to those in need.” For my entire life, I saw my grandfather live according to this quote. He was one of the most giving people I ever knew, and he gave without hesitation. He gave without expectation, concern for his own needs, or second guessing; he just opened his hand or his checkbook or his wallet, and he gave all of himself. It didn’t matter whether the recipient was a family member, friend, or stranger–he gave his all to all he met.
Scripture passages can come alive for the people who read them in many ways, but scripture can also find life through the lives of people who read them. My grandfather brought these passages to life because he is the man described by them.
“Whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 6-8
“Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.” John 12:26
The word of God is living and breathing. These scripture verses were breathed into my grandfather at his conception, and now thanks to his example, these scriptures live within me.
There are definite times when the Lord chooses to reveal himself to His people. We find evidence of this throughout scripture, as in today’s gospel, which is a perfect example, referring to the time of the “fourth watch.” This watch is believed to have occurred between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. It is also known as the last watch of the night. Jesus appeared to His disciples during this period of time in a more mythical sense than others because He actually walked on the water. Before the disciples recognized Him, they actually thought He was a ghost. However, once they realized it was Jesus, Peter proceeded to get out of the boat and walk on the water toward his Lord as well.
Unbelievable events often happen during the fourth watch, not just in Biblical times, but also in this age. God seems to draw close to His people at this time right before dawn. I am sure there are several reasons this time is significant for us and our spiritual journey. The fourth watch signals the end of night and the beginning of the day.
God asks us to spend this time in prayer; it is common to hear the advice to pray first in the morning. This is an ideal time to go to God and ask Him to bless the day ahead and to also take the opportunity to devote the day to God.
Praying first is the best activity for the start of any day, but Peter’s story in this gospel is an incredible example of the undeniable blessing Jesus can provide us when we go to Him at the darkest of all watches and offer Him our complete trust. The special quality this time of day holds can even have miraculous properties when we are open to the power of God. Of course, Peter did suffer doubt for a moment, but Jesus did not abandon him.
The fourth watch can be a time of great struggle, pain, possibility, and trust. This is when the fears and worries we hold for the day to come emerge, but then we allow the Lord to enter in to heal us and give us new hope. We may even feel that we can walk on water!